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Il Cantuccio, superb food, good value

Above: The exterior and below the enticing interior

Il Cantuccio Restaurant

209 Lygon Street




When visiting Melbourne it is basically compulsory to eat Italian in Lygon Street, Carlton.

We were lucky and ended up one of the best – the Il Cantuccio, which translates to “a little nook”.

My wife and I were there because the restaurant happens to be next door to the office of Melbourne entrepreneur Duane Zigliotto, an old friend we hadn’t seen for several years.

The popularity of the place, started originally by brothers Vince and Mario in 1983, was well proven by the crowds that gathered on a Tuesday night, traditionally the “dead” night of the week in restaurant circles.

Mario, who was once a band guitarist, and his wife are now running the place. Vince retired a few years ago.

The atmosphere is fantastic. It is an Italian restaurant, staffed by Italians and serving mouth-watering Italian food. The restaurant has a busy but friendly ambience and I could not praise the staff enough.

They were attentive, fast on their feet, and knowledgeable about the menu.

It is also full licensed with a very wide selection of popular and private vineyard wines.

The food was exceptional.

I ordered Chef’s Special Risotto Salmone and Spinach, which was a mouth-watering mix of Arborio Rice, smoked salmon, spinach, tomato, and cream. The ingredients blended into a sublime taste bud teasing experience. It was a unique dish.

My wife was full of praise for her meal – Agnelotti, large ravioli filled with pumpkin and ricotta cheese served with home-made pesto, roasted sweet potato, red capsicum, cream and tomato.

There was not a scrap left on any plate when we finished, unfortunately there was no room for dessert.

Prices for this gourmet food range were reasonable too. The Chef’s specials ranged from $24-$35; the pasta was all around $24 while on the main menu dishes ranged from $32-$36. These included veal, beef, chicken, Tasmanian salmon and prawns, all cooked the Italian way.

Bill splitting is okay too.

I swear that if I lived in Melbourne it would be difficult to keep away from the place.

Reservations: (03) 9347-9959.


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